Before the 2012 season, the Vikings envisioned getting a lot of production from their pair of tight ends in the passing game.
They got half of what they were looking for as Kyle Rudolph turned in a Pro Bowl season as a reliable and frequent target for Christian Ponder. His 53 catches ranked second on the team and were 45 more catches than John Carlson had after signing a five-year, $25 million contract with the Vikes as a free agent during the offseason.
Carlson missed the entire 2011 season because of a shoulder injury and dealt with a knee issue and a concussion during his dismal 2012 season, but he isn’t willing to say that injuries were the reason for his unproductive campaign. Which doesn’t mean he has a firm handle on what did go wrong.
“I don’t have an answer for you. If I knew, I would have tried … I did try to rectify the situation,” Carlson said, via Bob Sansevere of the Pioneer Press. “It never came together. Missing that time in camp wasn’t good because they didn’t get a feel for what I’m capable of doing. And I didn’t get a feel for the offense and the way Christian (Ponder) throws the ball, and how to run-block. It was a debacle. I’m thankful to be out here and be healthy and have another opportunity.”
Carlson, who took a pay cut in order to stick around for that second opportunity, is now three years removed from back-to-back 50-plus catch seasons with the Seahawks so it’s probably a stretch to expect him to match Rudolph’s production as a receiver. There’s a lot of room between that kind of output and what Carlson turned in last season, however, and something in the middle would be a welcome addition to the Vikings attack in the 2013 season.